Brooklyn indoor farming startup Gotham Greens harvested a whopping $310 million in its latest fundraising round, the company said Monday, as it plans to grow its crop of greenhouses across the country.
Gotham Greens’ model involves growing produce in greenhouses close to or within large cities, rather than shipping food across the country. One of the company’s first farms was build on top of the Whole Foods in the Gowanus neighborhood of Brooklyn.
The company, which was founded in 2009, plans to use the new cash to expand existing greenhouses in Chicago and Providence, RI — as well as finance new facilities near Dallas, Atlanta and Denver.
So-called “vertical agriculture” companies argue that their compact urban farms are more sustainable and efficient than traditional agriculture, which involves transporting leafy greens from distant states or countries to supermarket shelves.
Gotham Greens co-founder and CEO Viraj Puri said the company’s goal was to deliver “fresh produce within a day’s drive from our greenhouses to 90% of consumers across the US.”
“It’s more important than ever to bring innovative farming solutions that grow high-quality produce while using fewer precious natural resources,” Puri said.
Yet some critics have argued that vertical farms can actually have a high carbon footprint since greenhouses gobble up large amounts of electricity.
“Vertical farms and commercial greenhouses are given as examples of land-saving sustainable farming — but these farming methods use huge amounts of electricity to maintain a suitable growing environment for crops,” Professor Aidong Yang of the University of Oxford told phys.org. “That requirement needs to be supported by a low-carbon power supply to be sustainable.”
Gotham Greens products are currently sold at stores including Whole Foods, Kroger, Albertsons, Sprouts and Fresh Market.
Investors in the company’s latest fundraising round include the Bank of Montreal and Ares Management.
Another New York indoor farming startup, Manhattan’s Bowery Farming, raised $300 million last year from traditional venture capital backers as well as celebrities including Natalie Portman, Justin Timberlake, celebrity chef José Andrés and Phoenix Suns player Chris Paul.
Bowery Farming has raised $472 million since it was founded in 2014, while Gotham Greens has raised a total of $440 million since 2009.